The Alchemist

Thursday, 14 September, 2006

Genre: Comedy
Opened 14 Sep 2006
Written: Ben Jonson
Directed: Nicholas Hytner
Produced: National Theatre
Cast: Alex Jennings (Subtle), Simon Russell Beale (Face), Lesley Manville (Doll), Ian Richardson (Sir Epicure Mammon)
Synopsis: When Subtle, Face and Doll Common join forces to pose as alchemists, dupes of every kind queue up to fulfil their crazy lusts and dreams. And as the client list escalates so the frenetic con artists demonstrate ever more outlandish acts of improvisation to avoid discovery and rake in the cash.

What the critics had to say.....
PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, "Fresh, inventively funny production." KATE BASSETT also for THE INDEPENDENT says, "This is not Hytner's most successful modernisation. It often feels mildly strained, lacks real bite and is not quite thought through, actually missing a few tricks." NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "The modern-dress performances brim with vitality. Jennings's estuary-accented wide boy Subtle sets the deceptions going in a comedy classic performance...Russell Beale delights and deftly bridges class divides thanks to speedy costume changes." SUSANNAH CLAPP for OBSERVER says, "Nicholas Hytner has gone for gold. And got it. There never was much doubt that his production of The Alchemist would be full of fine moments: a cast headed by Alex Jennings, Lesley Manville and Simon Russell Beale more or less guaranteed that. It was less predictable that Ben Jonson's play about 17th-century con-artists would present so juicy and precise a portrait of 21st-century metropolitan life." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "Fine and hilarious...This, for my money, is one of the funniest plays in the English language." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "A fresh and superbly inventive production...Rarely have I seen an apparently dusty classic given such an exhilarating modern makeover." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "Russell Beale and Jennings... there is no funnier or more adroit double-act on the London stage...The evening is irresistible."

External links to full reviews from popular press
The Independent (Paul Taylor)
The Independent (Kate Bassett)
The Guardian
The Observer
The Times
Daily Telegraph

Production photos by Stephen Cummiskey

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